Interactive, Video-based course
26 half-hour videos
Video Preview / Course Demonstrations
Preview Video: Lesson #10: Modern Times
Preview Video: Lesson #14: The World at War (part II of two lessons on WWII)
Preview Guide (PDF 3.7MB)
Transforming America is a college level distance learning course from Dallas TeleLearning. The heart of the course is documentary-style video that takes us to the places where American history happened and gives voice to the people who lived there. In each program the strengths of the medium "sight and sound, color and motion" carry us into the human stories of choice and consequence that bring history to life.
Common threads are woven together over the course of twenty-six programs that encourage a deeper, more critical understanding of the forces that have shaped American history—in particular, questions of freedom, equality and national identity are revisited throughout the series.
Interviews with over sixty scholarly experts form the backbone of the content. Each program features on-camera interviews with historians chosen for their individual expertise, as well as for the diverse backgrounds and viewpoints they bring to the study of American history.
Interviews are supplemented with voice-over narration and readings from primary sources. Where possible, first person perspectives on historical events are also given. Visuals include landscapes and historical sites throughout the continental United States, including historical stock footage, photographs, paintings, drawings, documents, artifacts, maps and charts. Throughout the series, the storytelling is enhanced with original music and multi-layered soundscapes.
In the interest of making connections throughout our study of U.S. history, seven American families have been asked to play a recurring role in the video series. Chosen for the richness of their history as well as their ethnic, economic, and geographic diversity, the "featured families" include:
- a Native American family
- an African-American family
- a Mexican-American family
- an Asian-American family
- a farming family
- a European-American urban immigrant family
- a wealthy industrialist family
Their stories are introduced in the late 19th century, then recur throughout the series as they fit into the larger sweep of American history. In the final program we revisit each family in the present day as part of our wrap-up.
- Analyze American identity, freedom, and equality.
- Describe and explain the reasons for industrial growth in the United States and analyze the social, economic, and political effects of industrialization.
- Discuss the development of the American West and its effects on American Indians, Mexican Americans, and farmers in general.
- Describe and explain the patterns of immigration, and analyze the development of immigration restriction.
- Analyze the causes and consequences of the Great Depression.
- Discuss American involvement in World War II, including diplomacy as well as the military and home fronts.
- Discuss the broad-based civil rights movement in the United States since 1945, and analyze the contemporary status of minority groups.
- Analyze the major issues confronting the American people at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
UNIT 1: Industrializing America, 1877 - 1900 — "Rags to Riches?"
- The Gilded Age -Establishes the course themes of American identity, freedom, and equality at the end of Reconstruction, then examines the reasons behind the large scale industrialization in the late 19th century. In addition, how the culture of the era reflected the emerging dominance of business in America is analyzed.
- The American West - An integral part of the changing American landscape in the late 19th century was the transformation of the West. The causes of the changes occurring in the West are explored, and the consequences for people living and moving there are assessed.
- Moving to the City - Millions of immigrants, as well as thousands already in America, moved to the city in the decades following Reconstruction. The living and social conditions of the huddled masses during this era are examined, using the cities of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
- A Dream Deferred - While millions pursued the American Dream in the late 19th century, women of all ethnic minorities encountered special obstacles in their paths. Why did this happen? How did they respond? What did it mean?
- Labor's Struggle - Industrialization changed the nature of work, working conditions, and the composition of America's workforce. Labor's struggle to organize, management s fierce resistance to their efforts, and the status of the American worker at this time are analyzed.
- The Populist Challenge - Farmers became more productive and marginalized in economic and political life, responding by organizing significant challenges to the established political powers of the era. The meaning and legacy of the Populists is assessed.
- The Question of Empire - The 19th century ends with the internal transformations of the U.S. propelling the nation to look outward. Causes and consequences of the Spanish American War, the decision for empire, the resulting war in the Philippines, and the use of the Big Stick in Latin America are discussed and analyzed.
UNIT 2: Modernizing America, 1900 - 1945 — "Freedom from Fear?"
- The Progressive Paradox - After examining how and why American identity, freedom, and equality had changed since 1876, the Progressives and the causes they pursued are profiled. The meaning of progressive reform and the paradox of segregation is assessed.
- A War to End All Wars - Although the United States tried to stay out, America entered World War I on the side of the Allies in 1917. Why this happened and the effects of the war on the home and military fronts is analyzed. President Wilson's plans for a peaceful world and the Senates refusal to go along with his vision is examined.
- Modern Times - By the early 1920s, America was changing into a society that begins to look quite familiar to us. Radios, automobiles, sports, and consumerism often overshadowed the cultural tensions surrounding race, religion, and immigration. This new era is examined and its meaning is assessed.
- The Great Depression - The stock market crash in 1929 alarmed investors, and signaled hard times spreading beyond the farms. The causes and affects on Americans, and why Hoover's administration seemed unable to deal effectively with the crisis are analyzed.
- A New Deal - Roosevelt's new deal to Americans delivered some of the most important political and economic reforms in the 20th century. How America was transformed in the 1930s is examined and the legacy of these changes is assessed.
- Road to War - Japans attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the most devastating war of the 20th century. America's diplomatic road to war and the wartime mobilization, including the internment of Japanese Americans is analyzed.
- World at War - Turning to diplomacy and military operations, the reasons for Allied success are assessed. The holocaust, use of atomic bombs, and how the war transformed the world and the place of the United States in it are examined.
UNIT 3: Redefining America, 1945 - 1976 — "The New Frontiers?"
- Lesson 15: Cold War - After considering the status of American identity, freedom, and equality in 1945, we turn our attention to the emerging cold war. The development and application of the containment policy in Europe and Asia is assessed, and the fear of communism at home is examined.
- Pursuit of Happiness - Although the cold war tensions persisted, most Americans were pursuing their versions of happiness in the late 1940s and 1950s. The expanding economy, the changing nature of work, suburban life, and the important strides toward ending segregation in America are explored.
- All God's Children - Dreams of freedom and equality for all Americans moved toward a greater degree of reality during the dynamic civil rights movement of the 1960s. The leadership and tactics of the movement, how it changed America, and why the movement eventually stalled is analyzed.
- Times Are A-Changin' - The winds of change sweeping across America in the 1960s and early 1970s seemed to be blowing everywhere. The counterculture, American Indian protest movements, Latino movements, and the second wave of feminism are examined. What did it all mean?
- The Vietnam Dilemma - Amidst the excitement swirling within America in sixties, the United States continued to grapple with dangerous issues in the world arena. After reflecting upon the Cuban Missile Crisis, the complex story of American involvement in Vietnam and how that affected the American people is examined.
- The Decline of Liberalism - Liberal policies brought great change in America from FDR's New Deal to LBJ's Great Society. This lesson examines why liberalism came under attack from all sides in the late 1960s and early 1970s and how the Watergate Affair, coming on the heels of the Vietnam War, confirmed public mistrust of politicians and government.
UNIT 4: Reshaping America, 1976 - Present — "Still the Promised Land?"
- Conservative Resurgence - Reflecting upon the status of American identity, freedom, and equality during the nation's bicentennial, the resurging conservative politics that prevailed for the last quarter of the 20th century are examined. Was government really the problem? Was the era of big government really over?
- A New Economy - The American economy headed in a different direction in the late 20th century. Why did this happen? What did it mean? Public policy, the effects of technology, the changing nature of work and the workforce, and the decline of organized labor are examined.
- Life in the Fast Lane - As Americans adjusted to emerging economic realities, the pace of their lives quickened. How did they cope with new freedoms and opportunities? Recent social history, including immigration and affirmative, action is analyzed.
- A Different World - America had to adjust its role in the world in the late 20th century. The end of the Cold War, Americas continued involvement in the Middle East, and how American policymakers defined U.S. interests in a complicated and often violent world is analyzed.
- Globalizing America - At the turn of the 21st century, American culture seemed to be everywhere, and global trade accelerated. Then foreign terrorists attacked America on September 11, 200l. Why did this happen? The many dimensions of globalization, including the war on terrorism are analyzed.
- A More Perfect Union - This final lesson reflects upon American identity, freedom, and equality from the perspectives of our recurring experts, as well as our featured family members. Looking forward, we examine how we might secure a more perfect union for our posterity.
Design and Production Team
The Shaping America development professionals teamed up again to bring you Transforming America! The veteran media experts that comprise the production team for this series include a content specialist and members of professional and faculty advisory committees, along with educators, producers, videographers, video and print editors, a music composer, production coordinators, scriptwriters, multimedia specialists and an instructional designer.
Content Specialist - Kenneth G. Alfers, PhD - is a teacher, writer and historian who has taught American History college courses since 1968. Active in faculty leadership roles in the DCCCD, he teaches on-campus at Mountain View College, is a course coordinator and instructor for Dallas history telecourses, and a recipient of the District's Outstanding Teacher Award. Ken received his BA and MA degrees from Creighton University and his PhD from George Washington University. He served as the Content Specialist on the award-winning telecourses America: The Second Century, America in Perspective, and Shaping America: U.S. History to 1877.
Project Director - Craig Mayes - is an award-winning film producer/director with more than 30 years' production experience in network and public television, feature films, documentaries and corporate videos. He has been honored with the George Foster Peabody Awarded for Excellence in Broadcasting and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence in Publishing.
Producer/Director - Julia Dyer - has sixteen years of experience in film and television, producing and directing in the educational, commercial and entertainment sectors. Her previous course productions, Journey to Health, Voices in Democracy, and Shaping America: U.S. History to 1877, are currently in use by hundreds of colleges throughout the United States. Her narrative work includes the short films The Playroom and Etude, and the feature film Late Bloomers, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before its commercial release in theatres and on HBO. Julia holds a degree inRadio-TV-Film from University of Texas at Austin, where she was named the Jesse H. Jones Communications Scholar.
Instructional Designer - Janice Christophel - has 15 years experience in developing educational and training materials, including instructional design on various multi-media projects and courses. She received a BA degree in English from Miami University of Ohio and an MS degree in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas.
Production Coordinator - Mica Marley - received her BA in Media Communications from Asbury College in Kentucky. She has worked in both entertainment and educational broadcasting for the Outdoor Life Network, the Travel Channel, the Environmental Protection Agency and produced and directed a segment for the Emmy nominated children's show "NewsQuiz."
Executive-in-Charge - Pamela Quinn - President of DCCCD's LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, she has more than 25 years experience in distance learning, teaching, broadcasting and administration. With a BS from the University of Kansas and an MS from Texas A&M-Commerce, she has served on and consulted with numerous national organizations promoting distance Learning.
- Kenneth Alfers, Mountain View College
- David C. Bartlett, South Suburban College
- Roger Bromert, Southwestern Oklahoma State
- Maria Brown, El Camino College
- JoAnn D.Carpenter, Florida Community College
- Calvin L. Christman, Cedar Valley College
- Richard Cinclair, Eastfield College
- R. David Edmunds, University of Texas at Dallas
- Vallye Ezell, Richland College
- Deena J. Gonzalez, Loyola Marymount University
- Mary Jo Henry, Brookhaven College
- Wanda Jones, El Centro College
- William F. Mugleston, Floyd College
- Yolanda Romero, North Lake College
- Hal Williams, Southern Methodist University